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Tony's Online Tips
Reviews and commentary by Tony Isabella
"America's Most Beloved Comic-Book Writer & Columnist"

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TONY'S ONLINE TIPS
for Thursday, May 6, 2004

Citizen Kane Today is the birth anniversary of renowned director and actor Orson Welles, who was born on this date in 1915, in Kenosha, WI, and who died in Los Angeles on October 10, 1985. He's especially remembered for CITIZEN KANE, one of the most influential movies in American cinema, and for his 1938 radio dramatization of WAR OF THE WORLDS that actually created a panic in a few parts of the country. His other credits include THE MAGNIFICENT AMBERSONS, THE STRANGER, and teaming up with Superman to save the Earth from Martler, evil dictator of Mars.

It was 1949. Martler, an admirer of Adolf Hitler with a huge fleet of warships, attempted to launch a "blitzkrieg" on Earth and the Solar System. He and his neo-Nazi followers, the Solazis, were foiled by Superman and the courageous Welles.

The liberal media has seen to it that these events have been excluded from our history books, but a complete account did appear in SUPERMAN #62 (January-February, 1950). That periodical's cover was drawn by Wayne Boring and Stan Kaye.

Superman 62

Welles' bravery was chronicled in "Black Magic on Mars" by an unidentified journalist. The story, also drawn by Boring and Kaye, has been reprinted in the SUPERMAN: FROM THE 1930s TO THE 1970s and SUPERMAN: FROM THE 1930s TO THE 1980s collections.

The issue also featured:

"The People Vs. Superman" (written by Alvin Schwartz, drawn by Boring and Kaye);

"Pioneer Days in Oregon" (a short historical feature drawn by Fred Ray);

"How Football Began" (text feature); and,

"Mr. Mxyztplk, Hero" (another Superman adventure by Schwartz, Boring, and Kaye).

As a young reader and continuing to this day, I was fascinated by stories of comics heroes like Superman and Herbie meeting real-life historical figures...as well as modern personalities from the worlds of entertainment, politics, and sports. DC published dozens of these stories and I've often suggested to the company that these be collected for a mass market audience. Alas, I've been unable to convince them of the social and financial gain to be realized from such a project. Sigh.

While I try to come up with a new approach to sell DC on this idea, here are the resale stats on SUPERMAN #62:

THE OFFICIAL OVERSTREET COMIC BOOK PRICE GUIDE thinks a near-mint copy of this issue should sell for $800. THE STANDARD CATALOG OF COMIC BOOKS pegs it at $450.

I found two recently completed eBay sales of the issue, both from April. A good-minus copy sold for $49.95 to the only bidder. A fair-minus copy sold for $21.50 to the highest of three bidders. The seller of the latter described it as "fair" except for several flaws he identified.

Maybe it's just me, but I think when you add the word "except" to the grading that it's an admission the comic doesn't deserve the grade you've given it. On the other hand, even with this quibble, the buyer got a heck of a deal on this comic.

Let's see what else I have for you this fine day.

******

SHONEN JUMP

It's been four months since I last weighed in on SHONEN JUMP (Viz; $4.99), so I figure we're about due for a brief-as-possible update on my favorite comic book.

SHONEN JUMP is *the* best buy in comics today. Five bucks per issue gets you 350 pages of comics and features. Yes, all of the strips are of the action-adventure genre, but, within that genre, JUMP offers tremendous variety. And, man, you just can't beat the heft of an issue in your hands; it even *feels* like you're getting your money's worth.

There are seven ongoing series in JUMP and you get at least 40 pages of them per issue.

DRAGON BALL Z is my least favorite. Son Goku is an alien left on Earth as a child. He, his son, his allies, his allies who used to be enemies and may be enemies again someday, and his enemies do just two things: they fight and they evolve into stronger fighters. Currently, Goku and crew are fighting an android from the future, an android who gets stronger by absorbing the life of human beings and aliens and other androids and and and and and...oh, excuse me, I dozed off there. DRAGON BALL Z is boring. It can also be dumb, as when one of the "heroes" permits the android to get stronger so he can test himself against its full might.

SHAMAN KING is a pretty cool supernatural adventure series in which a young shaman - he can speak to spirits, join with them, and use their powers - is training to become the king of all shamans. The series has likeable characters and often focuses on the value of friendship and the possibility of redemption.

HIKARU NO GO also has a supernatural element. Its young hero is possessed by the spirit of an ancient "Go" player who can only play his beloved game through the boy. The boy resists at first, but is developing his own passion for the game. The gaming aspect is more interesting than I would have thought and there's plenty of human drama around the games. I like this series.

YUYU HAKUSHO is my second favorite JUMP strip. Its hero is a juvenile delinquent who died trying to save the life of a child and earned a second chance at life. He serves the forces of good as an "Underworld Detective," tracking down and vanquishing demons who've made their way to our world. Friendship and redemption are major themes in the series...and the fight sequences harken back to the days when super-heroes used their super-wits as much as/more than their super-powers.

NARUTO is a ninja-in-training, an orphan made from the spirit of an evil fox demon. Though he is looked down upon and despised by the townspeople he would protect, he sticks to his training and excels at it. With his teacher and two fellow students, he's just completed his first mission. The serial had action, human drama, and suspense. I look forward to what comes next.

ONE PIECE is my favorite series. Monkey D. Luffy is a young man determined to become the world's greatest pirate. His rubber body, the result of his eating cursed fruit, doesn't allow him to swim - a serious drawback for a sea-fearing pirate - but does come in handy when the action starts. Luffy is slowly putting together his own crew with the aim of finding a legendary treasure known as the "One Piece." Luffy's concept of "pirate" isn't the traditional one. Currently, he's protecting a young woman and her town from a murderous pirate captain.

In YU-GI-OH!, teenager Yugi Mutou solves an ancient puzzle and is possessed by the power of the King of Games. "Dark Yugi" is an avenger who challenges the unjust and the wicked to strange games where the cost can be the player's mind. The earlier episodes of the series featured a variety of games; later ones have focused on battles via card games. The card games don't do much for me, but the characters are likeable enough and interesting enough to keep me reading the stories and enjoying them.

From time to time, SHONEN JUMP also offers previews of other manga series. Issue #16 (April, 2004) previewed ULTIMATE MUSCLE, which answered the question, "Could they come up with something I like less than DRAGON BALL Z?"

The answer is...they could. The series isn't even worth the bandwidth to trash it.

SHONEN JUMP #17 (May, 2004) previewed THE PRINCE OF TENNIS, a popular sports strip. That I liked enough that I ordered its first volume. After it arrives and I read it, I'll let you know what I thought of it.

Besides DRAGON BALL Z, the only thing I dislike about SHONEN JUMP is that the magazine advertises Viz's manga collections in the borders of the strips. I'm getting better at tuning them out, but, Good Lord, are they annoying! The company should have more faith in the excellence of their comics and leave the hard sell for the quality-impaired.

SHONEN JUMP earns five Tonys every time out. There's so much good stuff in each issue that I can easily overlook the few things that I don't like. If you're not already reading my favorite comic book, you should be.

Tony Tony Tony Tony Tony

******

TONY POLLS

Every Sunday, new TONY POLLS questions are posted. Here are the results of last week's balloting.

"In celebration of the birthday of STEVE ENGLEHART, which of these is your favorite Englehart series?"

Detective Comics.....27.18%

Justice League of America.....12.62%

Avengers.....10.68%

Captain America.....10.68%

Doctor Strange.....7.77%

Green Lantern/Green Lantern Corps.....7.77%

West Coast Avengers.....6.80%

Defenders.....5.83%

Coyote.....2.91%

Master of Kung Fu.....1.94%

Night Man.....1.94%

Silver Surfer.....1.94%

Strangers ....1.94%

I went back and forth between Captain America and Detective Comics on this one. I really admired the political slant Englehart brought to the good Captain, but, ultimately, I had to go with what remains one of the best treatments of Batman in the entire history of comics, Steve's run on DETECTIVE COMICS.

"COMICS BUYER'S GUIDE is switching from a weekly tabloid to a monthly magazine? Are you more or less likely to buy CBG in this new format?"

More likely.....71.26%

Less Likely.....28.74%

Even though I've been writing for CBG since the days when Alan Light was publishing it, I tried to put myself in the mind of a new customer to vote on this question. I think the new magazine is going to look and read great, so I voted I would be MORE LIKELY to buy it in the new format.

"TONY'S ONLINE TIPS for April 23 present a parade of classic (and not-so-classic) comics covers and very little text. Would you like to see TOT do this more often?"

Yes.....70.21%

No.....29.79%

I voted an enthusiastic YES on this question. I love those wacky comic-book covers of old...and I think it's even more fun to see them in "theme" galleries. I hope to bring you at least one of these gallery-columns each month, so don't be shy about suggesting themes and covers to go with the themes.

If you haven't yet voted on this week's TONY POLLS questions, all of which concern the honoring of comics creators with special comic books - such as the STRANGE SCHWARTZ STORIES which DC will be publishing later this summer - head over to:

www.worldfamouscomics.com/tony/poll

The poll questions will stay active until sometime on Sunday, May 9, when they'll be replaced with new questions. Get in on the fun while you can.

Thanks for spending a part of your day with me. I'll be back tomorrow with more stuff.

Tony Isabella

<< 05/05/2004 | 05/06/2004 | 05/07/2004 >>

Discuss this column with me at my Message Board. Also, read Heroes and Villains: Real and Imagined and view my Amazon Wish List.

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THE "TONY" SCALE

Zero Tonys
ZERO: Burn your money before buying any comic receiving this rating. It doesn't *necessarily* mean there's absolutely nothing of value here - though it *could* - but whatever value it might possess shrinks into insignificance before its overall awfulness.

Tony
ONE: Buy something else. Maybe I found something which wasn't completely dreadful in the item, but not enough for me to recommend it when there are better comics available. I only want what's best for you, my children.

TonyTony
TWO: Basic judgment call. I found some value, but not enough to recommend it. My review should give you enough info to decide if you want to take a chance on it. Are you feeling lucky today, punk? Well, are you?

TonyTonyTony
THREE: This denotes something I find perfectly respectable. There are better books out there, but I wouldn't regret buying this item. Based on my review, you should be able to determine if it's of interest to you. Let the Force guide you.

TonyTonyTonyTony
FOUR: I recommend anything earning this rating. Unless you don't like the genre, subject matter, or past work of the creators, I believe you'll enjoy this item. Isn't it uncanny how I can look right into your soul that way?

TonyTonyTonyTonyTony
FIVE: Anything getting this rating is among the best comicdom has to offer. You should buy/read this, even if the genre/subject matter doesn't appeal to you. It's for your own good. Me, I live for comics and books this good...but not in a pathetic "Comic-Book Guy" sort of way.



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